Washington, D.C.-- The Communications Workers of America's intense multi-pronged political program, combined with a year-long effort to highlight the failed promises of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, made the difference in some of the most competitive races of the 2018 midterm election. Tuesday's results are a defining moment for pro-worker progressives who will change the face of Congress, state houses and hundreds of local and municipal offices from coast-to-coast.
"This election represents a beginning, not an end," said Chris Shelton, President of the Communications Workers of America. "CWA members are ready to make sure that a progressive pro-worker agenda that puts the needs of working families ahead of corporate CEOs and Wall Street bankers is at the center of the discussion in Congress, in state capitals and in communities across the country."
Informed by deep experience organizing in some of the toughest right-to-work states, CWA's program went beyond traditional party politics. CWA members and retirees engaged in issues-based electoral work to build the power that is necessary to change our economy and strengthen our democracy.
"Working families needed a victory in the midterms and CWA helped deliver it. We now have a check on the whims of a president who prefers attacking people on Twitter to addressing the real problems that our communities face and a Congress that focused on tax cuts to corporations and the one percent at the expense of programs that help everyone else. And in the states we have powerful new voices that will advocate for the advancement of the priorities of working families," said Shelton.
CWA's 2018 election work began in 2017 with the launch of a year-round leadership development program that helped rank and file members become highly-skilled political organizers for the working class. Members and retirees across the country from all parts of the union -- including members that normally answer customer service calls, install and maintain our country's communications network, work in wireless stores, serve as Flight Attendants and work in manufacturing -- led sophisticated electoral programs across the country in target states. They set up canvasses, managed phone banks and utilized new peer-to-peer texting platforms to reach out to CWA members, retirees and the general public during this election cycle.
Last November, CWA launched a high-profile campaign to expose the failed promises of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act by calling on corporations to guarantee wage increases and the return of offshored jobs, turning a legislative win that Republicans were hoping to make the centerpiece of the midterm elections into a liability. The union followed up on that effort with radio and digital advertising and door-to-door canvassing on the issue in key districts.
CWA activity in key races included:
In New York where Democrats took control of the state Senate, the CWA ground game pushed Monica Martinez (SD-03), Jim Gaughran (SD-05), Anna Kaplan (SD-07), Andrew Gounardes (SD-22), James Skoufis (SD-39) and Jennifer Metzger (SD-42) over the top to victory on election night. Victories by Max Rose in NY-11, Antonio Delgado in NY-19, and Anthony Brindisi in NY-22 contributed to the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives. On the GOTV Day of Action on November 4, over 80 volunteers knocked on thousands of doors for 15 campaigns.
In New Jersey, wins by CWA-endorsed candidates in key Congressional districts by Tom Malinowski in NJ-07 and Mikie Sherrill in NJ-11 helped flip control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Democratic Party. CWA volunteers connected with thousands of voters in these critical races, and kept up the intense activity through Election Day.
In Pennsylvania, members trained at a statewide activist boot camp led CWA's participation canvassing, phone banking and text messaging of thousands of voters across the state. Their efforts helped return Bob Casey to the Senate and contributed to wins for CWA-endorsed candidates Mary Scanlon (PA-05), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Susan Wild (PA-07), Matt Cartwright (PA-08) and Conor Lamb (PA-17) in key swing districts, adding to the Democratic gains in the House of Representatives.
In Virginia, members and retirees turned out for CWA-endorsed candidates Elaine Luria (VA-02), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) who ousted Republican incumbents and added to a record number of women in Congress.
In West Virginia, CWA support helped return Joe Manchin to the Senate.
In North Carolina, members who participated in CWA's training program organized an extensive voter education and turnout effort. Over 200 members and retirees worked over 1,000 volunteer phone bank, text bank and canvass shifts and ended the anti-worker supermajority in the State House and Senate.
In Florida, over 400 CWA volunteers made electing pro-worker candidates and strengthening democracy in this critical swing state a priority. Their efforts resulted in victories for Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26) and Donna Shalala (FL-27) and the passage of Amendment 4, which will restore voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians.
In Ohio, where Sherrod Brown won re-election to the Senate, nearly 500 CWA volunteers worked 2,800 phone bank and canvass shifts and ran an extensive peer-to-peer text messaging program for candidates at the local, state and federal levels.
In Wisconsin, CWA-endorsed Democrat Tony Evers ousted Scott Walker from the governorship, while Tammy Baldwin will return to the Senate with CWA's support.
In Michigan, CWA volunteers campaigned for Gretchen Whitmer in her successful bid to become Governor and for Debbie Stabenow who will return to the U.S. Senate. CWA's support helped elect Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) to the U.S. House of Representatives, picking up a seat for Democrats.
In Illinois, J.B. Pritzker defeated Bruce Rauner, with the help of CWA volunteers. Rauner led the national effort to weaken unions by barring the collection of fair share fees by public service unions which led to the Janus case. CWA also endorsed Sean Casten (IL-06) in a critical race that helped change the balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In Texas, CWA volunteers played a key role in victories by Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) and Colin Allred (TX-32) which contributed to the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. CWA's program focusing on sporadic voters in Harris and Dallas counties contributed to record turnout in Harris County, where Democrat Lina Hildago succeeded in her bid for County Judge, giving Democrats control of all of the countywide elected posts and helped Democrats flip five Texas House seats in Dallas County.
In Missouri, CWA members and retirees energized by their successful effort to defeat the Republican right-to-work law in August turned out to pass a ballot measure that will raise the state's minimum wage from $7.85 to $12 by 2023.
In Kansas, Democrats gained control of a Congressional seat after a win by CWA-endorsed candidate Sharice Davids (KS-03).
In Colorado, where over 100 CWA members and retirees volunteered in races across the state, CWA-endorsed candidate Jason Crow (CO-06) defeated incumbent Mike Coffman. CWA volunteers began a door-to-door canvass in the district in June to let voters know about Coffman's support for the corporate tax cut bill and to gather pledges from voters to not vote for him.
In Minnesota, CWA endorsed Tim Walz in his successful bid for Governor, with over 100 volunteers turning out to go door-to-door, phone bank and text bank for candidates for federal, state and local office. CWA also endorsed newly-elected Congresswoman Angie Craig who defeated incumbent Jason Lewis.
In New Mexico, CWA-backed Michelle Lujan Grisham will replace anti-union Governor Susana Martinez in a major victory for working people.
In Arizona, CWA-endorsed candidate Ann Kirkpatrick won the second district from Republicans. CWA members and retirees organized door-to-door canvassing, phone banks and peer-to-peer texting that made a real difference in the race.
In California, CWA members and retirees volunteered across the state, providing critical support in races that were key to the likely Democratic gains in the House of Representatives where many races remain too close to call, including Katie Hill (CA-25), Harley Rouda (CA-48) and Mike Levin (CA-49). CWA also endorsed Governor-elect Gavin Newsom.
In Nevada, Jacky Rosen defeated incumbent Dean Heller, with strong support from CWA and other unions. CWA also endorsed Steve Sisolak who won back the Governorship for Democrats and Susie Lee (NV-03) and Steven Horsford (NV-04) who claimed U.S. House of Representative seats.